UPED appamāda & pamāda

appamāda & pamāda: frequently translated as

  • heedful / heedless
  • diligent / negligent
  • careful / careless

appamāda = assiduity

The above translations are good, and they work in most contexts, but it’s missing a very important piece. It’s missing the perseverance, the grit, the tenacity, the all out every moment 24/7 give it everything you got mentality. Practicing with the urgency like your head is fire. video example

Assiduity is the perfect translation because it captures that relentless, unremitting drive, without sacrificing the careful wise attention.

(merriam webster)
: showing great care, attention, and effort
: marked by careful unremitting attention or persistent application

  • assiduous planning
  • an assiduous book collector
  • She tended her garden with assiduous attention.

(oxford dict.)
assiduity: noun
1Constant or close attention to what one is doing.
‘the assiduity with which he could wear down his opponents’

diligence; [also pl.] constant personal attention.
Classical Latin assiduitas, constant …

Assiduity = Ass-sit-do-it-y

It’s a great English word because it means exactly what it sounds like. You “sit your ass” down and diligently apply yourself until you can “do it”.

It’s also very easy to memorize the pali, because it starts with ‘A’, followed by two consonants: Appamāda -> Assiduity

difference between ‘assiduity’ and ‘heedfulness’

  • A heedful person becomes a better person, with better sila, increases their chance for a favorable rebirth in the human or deva realms.
  • An assiduous person is so determined not do go through the rounds of suffering anymore, through perseverance and constant yoniso manasi-kara attains nirvana in this very life time.

AN 2.5 appamāda linked to appativāna (relentless, unremitting, indefatiguable)


‘kāmaṃ taco ca nhāru ca aṭṭhi ca avasissatu,
Gladly, [let only the] skin and tendons and bones remain,
sarīre upassussatu maṃsa-lohitaṃ,
(the) body (having) dried-up (the) flesh-&-blood,
yaṃ taṃ purisa-thāmena purisa-vīriyena
what ever manly-strength, manly-virility,
purisa-parakkamena pattabbaṃ
manly-courage can-attain,
na taṃ a-pāpuṇitvā
** (with) that not-(yet)-attained,
vīriyassa saṇṭhānaṃ bhavissatī’ti.
(my) vigor relaxing {won’t}-happen.

(second rep: assiduity)

Tassa mayhaṃ, bhikkhave, appamād-ādhigatā sambodhi,
******my, *********, assiduity-[led to]-attainment (of) awakening.
Appamād-ādhigato an-uttaro yogak-khemo.
assiduity-[led to]-attainment (of) un-excelled {freedom from the}-yoke.
Tumhe cepi, bhikkhave, appaṭivānaṃ padaheyyātha:
“You too, monks, relentlessly (you) should-exert (yourselves), [thinking]:

(a comprehensive survey of most sutta references to appamada to follow later)

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If appamāda is assiduity, then what is pamāda?

For the same reason I’m not too crazy about the existing translations for appamada, I think the existing pamada translations are lacking in intensity. “heedless” and “negligent” feel like the stronger words, “careless” sounds less dangerous. Any other options?

Maybe non-assiduity, un-assiduous? That would be the best way to translate for the english reader to know exactly what pali word is being intended.

I don’t think “assiduity” is in the common vernacular.

I suppose the adjective “assiduous” is used to some degree. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the noun form “assiduity” in spoken speech though.

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Yea, even “assiduous” though, I think if you stopped the common person of the street and asked them they wouldn’t really be able to tell ya what it means. jmo

It usually crops up in phrases like “assiduous effort”. I’d reckon that more than half of people would have some kind of vague notion that it has similar connotations to the more common “diligent” or “harder working” but probably nothing much more precise than that! :slight_smile:

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thanks for the feedback, I hadn’t thought of that (most people wouldn’t know what ‘assiduity’ means).

But do you think anyone could forget what it means after that explanation and video? Assiduity = Ass-sit-do-it ?

I didn’t really know what heedfulness meant either, just guessed by context, and figure it must similar to ‘heed’. Just googled ‘heedfulness’, you know what it’s synonym is? Mindfulness. careful attention is another synonym. Very similar to yoniso manasikara. Do you even know what english dictionaries mean by ‘mindfulness’? Probably not what ‘sati’ means in the EBT.

We could use some back up options to ‘assiduity’ (for appamada), but I certainly wouldn’t want to give up on it without trying. It’s too great of a word, and deserves a chance to shine.

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imo “great effort” or “tremendous effort”, even though it’s not word-for-word, make sense in context and are common enough, i’m no translator though…

“Bhikkhus, I will teach you about one who dwells negligently, and about one who dwells diligently. Listen to that….

“And how, bhikkhus, does one dwell negligently? If one dwells without restraint over the eye faculty, the mind is soiled among forms cognizable by the eye. If the mind is soiled, there is no gladness. When there is no gladness, there is no rapture. When there is no rapture, there is no tranquillity. When there is no tranquillity, one dwells in suffering. The mind of one who suffers does not become concentrated. When the mind is not concentrated, phenomena do not become manifest. Because phenomena do not become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells negligently.’

“If one dwells without restraint over the ear faculty, the mind is soiled among sounds cognizable by the ear…. If one dwells without restraint over the mind faculty, the mind is soiled among mental phenomena cognizable by the mind…. Because phenomena do not become manifest, one is reckoned as ‘one who dwells negligently.’ SuttaCentral